Things to do in Telupid, the Heart of Sabah

Meliau River of Telupid
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Telupid is a small town in the central of Sabah. I’ve stopped by Telupid for meals many times, when I was taking long-distance bus to East Coast. In the past, I didn’t care about Telupid, because it looked like another undeveloped remote area in Sabah. However, a few pioneers in tourism sector start to uncover the astonishing nature and historical values of Telupid in recent years.

mountains of Telupid

location map of Telupid town and Tawai forest reserve
Most tourists visit Kinabalu Park at the west and Kinabatangan at the east. The Heart of Sabah remains unexplored for decades.

Unduk Ngadau from Telupid
Our State-Level Unduk Ngadau 2012 (Harvest Festival Queen), Melinda Louis, is also from Telupid. That makes me want to see her hometown too, hehe..

forest of Telupid

Telupid

Though Telupid is not big, it has turned from a few shoplots to a scale of town over the years. It is a peaceful area surrounded by forested mountains. Probably Telupid is far from sea, it is hotter than Kota Kinabalu in sunny days. Below are a few activities that you can do nearby Telupid.

Microwave Hill (Bukit Microwave)

The sunrise and sunset views in Telupid are spectacular. The best location to see these is on the forest fire observation tower (Menara Api Jabatan Perhutanan Sabah) of Microwave Hill (Bukit Microwave), only 20 minutes by car from Telupid town.

forest fire observation tower on Microwave Hill
Please note that this tower is locked and managed by Telupid Forestry Department. The tower is meant for monitoring forest fire and not for public access. You need to contact Telupid Forestry Department (Tel: +60 89 521743) during office hours to get the permission to access.

tower on Microwave Hill (Bukit Microwave)
The Microwave Hill is about 422 Meters above sea level and the observation tower is about 20 Meters in height. It takes quite a bit of effort to climb up there.

on top of observation tower
Pic: a nerve-wracking view for height phobia
Don’t worry, the tower is made of steel and concrete, rock solid enough to support 10 people.

green viper on the tower
Pic: I saw a poisonous green viper on the tower. It’s a myth how and why it got there. It is locally known as “Ular Kapak” (Axe Snake), a deadly snake.

view of Telupid from the tower
You can get a breathe-taking view of mountain, forest, river, plantation and Telupid town on the tower. However, if you come in early morning, the surrounding might be too misty for you to see anything.

ultramafic forest of Telupid

forested hills of Telupid

lush ultramafic forest of Tawai
Pic: misty Ultramafic forest of Tawai in the morning.
Enjoy the view. Sabah has more forest than you think.

view from top of the tower in Microwave Hill
The reason this hill is named Microwave Hill is because there are a few telecommunication towers here. 3G broadband is available for Celcom and Maxis network subscribers.

Photos of Telupid during sunset:

rain cloud on Telupid town
Pic: thunderstorm approaching Telupid

rain in Telupid
Pic: rain in Telupid

sunset of Telupid
Pic: sunset at Telupid

Meliau River (Sungai Meliau), the Cleanest River of Sabah

The Tawai forest near Telupid is a protected water catchment area free of pollution, and the clean mountain streams flow into Meliau River (Sungai Meliau).

crossing the broken bridge
Last week I followed the tour organized by North Borneo Safari to get wet in the cleanest river of Sabah. The starting point is only 10 minute drive from Telupid town.

ready for river walk
Pic: briefing before the river walk. You can see two photographers at the right busy looking for pitcher plant, which is abundant on the slope.

pitcher plant near Meliau River
Pic: Mirwan our guide found a Nepenthes.

big Nepenthes rafflesiana
Pic: a big Nepenthes rafflesiana. Pitcher plant is everywhere around this area due to the infertile ultramafic soil.

heart-shaped pitcher plant
Pic: a heart-shaped pitcher plant. Be careful when handling pitcher plant, its lid (cover) is very fragile.

Meliau River (Sungai Meliau) near Telupid
At this point, you may think this place has no big deal. However, foreigners appreciate this pristine river earlier than we do. The Meliau River is chosen as one of the filming sites for Danish reality show titled “Girls Off The Beaten Track” and broadcasted by Tv2, Denmark’s biggest television network. Basically, 7 spoiled high school Danish girls were sent to this area to test their jungle survival skills, something far beyond their comfort zone.

walking along Meliau River
Pic: river walk along Meliau River
If I’m an advertiser, I’ll surely pick this river for any mineral water ad, as it’s sooooo…… clean.

crossing Meliau River
Pic: crossing the river
Everyone didn’t really want to get wet first. After soaking our body in the cooling water during hot day, we felt great about it and minding no more. The river can be up to 1 Meter in depth, so bring a waterproof bag for your stuffs.

No name waterfall near Meliau River
We had a bit of fun at the “No Name” waterfall near to the river. From the smiles of those ladies, you know they enjoy it.

clean water of Sungai Meliau
The emerald-color is the sign of clean river, unlike the milk tea color of other Sabah rivers.

crystal clear river
I feel the urge to drink the water right away.

swimming in Meliau River
Pic: this shot is perfect if they are in bikini
They say there are small fishes biting them.

splash!
Pic: SPLASH!!! An ad by Spritzer LOL.

enjoying Sungai Meliau
What? Call me for another date at this river?

going back
After the refreshing shower, we walked back to starting point.

enjoying cold drink
The next best thing – cold drink after cooling ourselves in river. You may contact North Borneo Safari at www.northborneosafari.com for a river tour.

Below is the location map of all the places I mention:

View My Sabah Map in a larger map

Other Activities

Above are leisure activities that you can do nearby Telupid town. If you want an adventure, you may try the following:

1. Tawai Waterfall

Visit the 95-Meter Tawai Waterfall and ultramafic forest in Tawai Forest Reserve. Click Here for more info.

2. Death March

Walking the trail used by World War II Prisoner-of-War in Bukit Taviu Forest Reserve. Over 2,000 Australian and British soldiers died in Death March. Contact TYK Adventures Tours for details.

3. Center of Sabah

Visit the exact Center of Sabah mapped by GPS. The point is located in forest reserve of Tongod, so you need to get a permit to enter. Click Here for more info

4. Climbing Mt. Tawai

Take a 5-hour hike from the base of Meliau River to the peak of Mt. Tawai (1,273 Meters). So far I haven’t heard anyone has tried this.

More Photos

You may check out my photo album if you want to see more nice pictures:
Photo gallery of Telupid

Photos taken in Telupid, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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  • Lucas

    Hi Murphy, came across your website, it’s shocking to see so many interesting places that were never mentioned in guide books or any other websites!

    I came across this Telupid page, and are tempted to go there. But I’ve a doubt.
    1) Is Microwave Hill really accessible to public? Will it be so easy to get permission to access there?

    2) Can I go to Meliau river by self-guide?
    3) This is about Tawai waterfall (on the other page). Really need to pay RM1000 to get to the fall??

  • Hi Lucas, welcome to my blog and it’s cool that you find Telupid interesting.

    1. Public can go to Microwave Hill but they need to register at the gate. However, to climb up to the tower, you will need the key from Forestry Dept. Just call them or drop by their office. They are very helpful.

    2. Yes, you can go to Meliau River by yourself.

    3. It’s RM1,000 if you want to hire the 4WD and driver of Forestry Dept on non-working day. You can use your own 4WD, but you must get an entry permit from Director of Sabah Forestry HQ first.